The USS America, a Gator Navy amphibious assault ship built specifically to accommodate Marine Corps F-35Bs, has just left port for sea trials after having to be overhauled for ten months immediately following its original introduction into the fleet due to issues over carrying the aircraft it was designed for.
The USS America already had its well deck, used for launching and recovering hovercraft and beach landing ships for ambibous operations, omitted in its design to focus on aviation capabilities. In other words, it is an aircraft carrier not an amphibious assault ship.
The main problem is that the ship was concurrently designed and built long before the F-35B was tested, under parameters that were totally bogus. It ends up that its deck cannot accommodate the extreme temperatures and force of the F-35B’s exhaust during heavy operations. This was just one of the many other necessary modifications that had to be retrofitted after the ship hit the seas. You can read all about this ridiculous situation in this past Foxtrot Alpha feature.
The next ship in the America class, the USS Tripoli will also need similar deck modifications. The third ship in the America class will have its well deck restored and will not need modifications to its deck to operate F-35Bs. The USS Tripoli is slated to enter service in 2024.
Let’s hope they got it right this time.